Davie Street hangouts and hot spots draw the entire spectrum of the West End community

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      Hey, boys and girls, it’s Alan “Ernie” Woo and Craig “Bert” Takeuchi here. We were wondering—have you strolled down Davie Street lately? It’s sure changed. Right, Bert? Right, Ernie. There are chic places like the sleek bar 1181 and the hip Chinese outfit Shanghai 1949.

      Cuisine from warm climates at places like All India Sweets & Restaurant, India Bistro, and Lolita’s attracts full houses, perhaps because of our rainy weather. But with all the changes, what will happen to the West End community? Where are the new hangouts? We went out on a sunny day that was sweepin’ the clouds away to find out exactly that. And to find out how to get, how to get to Davie Street”¦

      Everyone knows the soap bubbles that drift down at Davie and Thurlow. Are they from my bathtub, Bert? No, Ernie, they’re from the former Oasis Pub, now the Oasis Cocktail Lounge (1240 Thurlow Street). The shutters and Santa Fe décor have been replaced by a tropical-inspired room divided into a variety of seating arrangements (booths, lounge chairs, barstools) and a patio. More changes are in the works, with plans to create a DJ booth and a dance floor (big enough for a Snuffleupagus!).

      Owner Vance Campbell explained over tempura-style, spicy green-bean frites and pork spring rolls that they want to attract the full West End spectrum, from gay to straight. “We wanted to create something that was a place that everyone can visit and feel comfortable in.

      That’s pretty much represented in the clientele we get here.” The variety is reflected in the entertainment: comedians, jazz, underwear parties, and topless waiters. They might even have a carton of milk, a loaf of bread, and a stickobuttah.

      Last May, the Majestic (1138 Davie Street)—brought to you by the proprietors of the now-closed Doll & Penny’s, and the letters S and M—replaced late-night diner Fresgo Inn. Operations manager Simon Pearson-Roach explained that the stylish room, now high-ceilinged and decorated with chandeliers, was designed with sightlines in mind.

      “We just wanted to make sure there were no bad seats at all, and everybody could see the stage from where they sat.” After all, it is a cabaret that showcases everything from fashion shows to drag queen performances.

      On a Friday night, Ernie and Bert found it more crowded than Oscar’s trash can, but were able to spot MLA Lorne Mayencourt and Janine Fuller of Little Sister’s. Mid-song, drag queen Symone ran out into the middle of traffic, to the audience’s delight. Talk about a showstopper. (Ernie says “Khee-hee-hee.”) It’s a tradition.

      Promotions manager and local drag queen Joan-E explained that it comes from the evolution of gay venues from “basements with back-alley entrances with not very much signage” to being “on the main streets in well-lit, well-advertised places”. Running out on the street is “just an extension of [that] celebration”.

      Although Joan-E pointed out that the venue caters to a crowd that wants to catch a show but “be home by 11”, Pearson-Roach said they are applying to upgrade their restaurant licence to a liquor-primary licence (so they can stay open until 3 or 4 a.m.). Which makes sense, since the food (including lobster ravioli, New York strip loin, and Phyllo-Filo) is outnumbered by the extensive drinks. Is that the Count having drinks over there? “One martini, ha ha ha! Two martinis, ha ha ha!”

      Down the street at 1262 Davie, there’s Score, formerly Sugar Daddy’s, also brought to you by the owners of the Oasis (and the letters L, G, B, and T). It’s still a sports bar with a West End twist, and will soon be expanding into the neighbouring space (formerly Sandy’s Café).

      Even though the six big-screen TVs had Ultimate Fighting and pay-per-view hockey on when we dropped in, the dance beats made Bert feel like doin’ the Pigeon. The menu covers all the pub-grub faves (dry ribs, onion rings, quesadillas, calamari), fresh-sheet items like chicken-and-curry rice bowls, and a brunch with everything from Belgian waffles to B-E-L-T-CH (bacon, egg, lettuce, tomato, cheese) sandwiches. Spelling is fun!

      Ernie and Bert agreed that visiting Davie Village Café & Bar (1141 Davie) is like going home. Where else can you show up in your bathrobe for comfort food (meat loaf, chicken pot pie, burgers, brunch), low-priced drinks menu (cocktails $5.95, martinis $6.75), and free Internet and board games?

      The quaint spot is located above Davie’s Flowers in a house that was once home to the House of Venus, Loop magazine, and a hair salon. Now there are rooftop drag shows (what, no pigeons?), naked New Year’s parties, and the Girls With Guitars open-mike night.

      “We’ve evolved into that hub for tourists and the community,” said manager Andy Cook, “where people come from 8 in the morning till 11 at night.”

      Groups like the B.C. Bears and Average Joes (a social group for HIV–positive gay men) hold their meetings there. On the walls are Xtra West clippings, and a horse statue rescued from Doll & Penny’s. After the Dufferin closed, DVC became RadioGay.ca’s headquarters. The only thing the place needs is a bathtub with a rubber ducky.

      And there you have it, kids—these are the new places in the Davie neighbourhood, in the Davie neighbourhood, in the Davie neigh-bour-hoo-ood, yes, these are the places in the Davie neighbourhood; they’re the places you could go to each day. (Khee-hee-hee!)